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I’m On An All Carb Diet: Tartine Bakery & Cafe

21 Jan

Tartine Bakery is nothing short of amazing.  Anyone living in the Mission or Castro areas of San Francisco, has witnessed the line of bread and pastry fiends wrapping around the outside of the bakery on any given day of the week.

Tartine’s hubby and wifey co-owners, Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, come equipped with years of culinary experience, have studied century-old baking methods in the French countryside, and even have a James Beard award for Outstanding Pastry Chefs under their culinary belts.  Since opening Tartine in 2002, these dynamic bakers have definitely proven themselves to be the rustic bread masters of the Bay Area.

Watch Chad Robertson speak in depth on his background, baking techniques and unyielding passsion for creating that perfect loaf of bread:

Evidenced by Tartine’s daily crowds, Robertson and Prueitt have been able to hone their craft and truly deliver – their skill and love for the art of baking shines through in the quality of food Tartine consistently delivers.

Assortment of open-faced croque-monsieurs on freshly-baked country rustic bread

Complete with oven roasted tomatoes, béchamel, gruyere, thyme and pepper – topped with either smoked Niman Ranch ham or seasonal vegetables

This is what Tartine does to people…Steph clearly can’t keep the sheer excitement from bursting out of her eyeballs

Excellent coffee and espresso as well

Just a sweet little post savory-meal treat

Banana Cream Tart: flaky pastry coated in dark chocolate with caramel, pastry cream, and lightly sweetened cream

1-2-3…GO!  Nobody talk for the next 15 minutes, thanks.

Enfin, Tartine is conveniently located near beautiful Dolores Park – which has rapidly become one of my favorite places to lie in the sunshine, people watch, and work off my well-earned food coma with a vengeance…
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Chakchouka à la Moncef

29 Nov

Chakchouka is a fried pepper and vegetable dish that is as commonly served in Tunisian kitchens as are hot dogs at American ball parks.  Chakchouka is an incredibly flavorful dish that emerged from a country that is a bustling crossroad of French, Italian and Arab cultures.  Since Italy is just a hop across the picturesque Mediterranean, many Tunisian dishes have been influenced by Italian culinary traditions.  Not only do both countries share the same passion for fresh ingredients and lively tomato based dishes, but both also view food as a hub that strengthens bonds between gathering friends and families.  Chakchouka is one of my favorite things to eat in Tunisia because it can be eaten at any time of the day and the spices always enhance the inherent flavors of the fresh veggies.  My father’s recipe puts a nice twist on the traditional version by adding potatoes – making this the perfect entrée for an easy Sunday brunch.

Ingredients

  •  1 red and 1 green bell pepper (cut into thin slices, about 2 inch long pieces)
  • 1 medium size yellow onion (chopped or finely sliced)
  • 1 medium size potato (skinned and diced into about 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 2 fresh tomatoes (seeded, diced into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1 medium size zucchini (1/4 inch thick half circles)
  • 4-6 large eggs
  • 2 gloves of garlic (1 finely diced, 1 quartered)
  • 4 oz. of plain tomato sauce
  • 1 Tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 Tsp. ground caraway seeds
  • 1 Tbl. chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbl. chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 Tbl. chopped green onion
  • olive oil

Preparation

  1. In a medium size skillet over medium heat, lightly fry potatoes in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil until slightly browned and almost tender. Salt lightly then set aside.
  2. Repeat step 1 with the zucchini.  Cook until they are still slightly firm but nearly edible. They will be cooked more later, so be careful to not overcook.
  3. Preferably in a cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tbl. of olive oil. Sauté the onions on medium-high heat for about 4 min or until translucent.
  4. Add the bell peppers to the onions. Salt and pepper to taste, then add the cilantro.
  5. Cook the mixture for 1-2 more minutes then add all of the garlic, coriander and caraway, mix well.
  6. Add the tomato sauce to the mixture and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, cover and simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes – stir on occasion until the sauce has thickened.
  7. Once the mixture has thickened, distribute the potatoes and zucchini evenly on top and push them gently into the mixture.
  8. Simmer uncovered for 3 more minutes on medium-low heat.
  9. With the back of a large spoon, make depressions for the eggs on top of the Chakchouka (creating a “nest” for the eggs so they are contained and do not run all over the top).
  10. Carefully crack the eggs into the nests. Salt and pepper them,  then top the dish with chopped Italian parsley and green onions.
  11. Broil the entire skillet in the oven for about 3-5 minutes or until eggs are set and no longer translucent – make sure the yolk is still soft and runny.

Serve right away and enjoy.  The secret is to not overcook the Chakchouka, and as my grandmother, Meherzia, used to say, “You must eat it live!”

France and Italy continued…

13 Jun

A few more photos of my marvelous meals in the South of France and Cinque Terre, Italy!  These are all typical regional dishes that are guaranteed to make your mouth water.

Tomato Farci Provencale – stuffed tomato w/beef, parmesan, garlic, onions, sauteed veggies and provencal spices

Salade Chevre Chaud – Arugula, heirloom tomatoes, parmesan shavings, with warm goat cheese wrapped in puff pastry.

Socca –  Similar to a crepe.  Socca is made of chickpea flour, water, olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.  It’s perfect for a warm, savory breakfast.

Socca man hard at work!

Fresh from the woodfire oven…almost ready!

Oh wait, there’s more…socca man sells fresh pizza too.

Pissaladiere: Very popular in the south.  Pissaladiere is a light and flaky pastry type pizza that’s generally made with grilled onions (onions confit), anchovies, olives and fresh thyme.  Unfortunately, anchovies are one of the few things I don’t enjoy, so I had to remove it, but luckily my dad was there to pick up the anchovy slack.

Can’t go wrong with some serious charcuterie at the morning market in the old village of La Turbie.

Sanglier meat: Wild boar meat that tastes like a less pungent version of prosciutto.  Tasty over a bed of arugula.

Gambas w/pesto – Big ol shrimps from the Mediterranean Sea.

Panna cotta

Nutella Creme Brulee – seriously as amazing as it sounds.  Surprisingly light and not overly sweet.

Sandwiches!

Pan Bagnat: Raw veggies, green onions, hard boiled eggs, tuna and olive oil on a fresh baguette.  This sandwich is a very typical lunchtime meal in Nice.

Grilled Merguez (Spicy Lamb) Sandwich

Merguez sandwich: Served with dijon mustard and Harissa (spicy paste from North Africa)

Cinque Terre, Italy

I love Italy. I love pasta.

Penne alla arrabiata

Caprese Salad: Burrata (creamy mozzarella), tomato, basil and pesto

Ravioli with zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes 

Testaroli with pesto genovese

 

One Delish Dish does Côte d’Azur

6 Jun

The Streets of Vieux Nice

My family and I were fortunate enough to take some time off to travel to the South of France for my cousin’s wedding. The South is undoubtedly famous for its picturesque coastlines, impeccable building facades, lively Polly-Pocket sized streets and of course…its cuisine. Being that southerners have easy access to fresh seafood from the Mediterranean, as well as plenty of sunshine for their fresh herbs and locally grown produce, these regional traits lend themselves to the great food and leisurely lifestyle that exists in this region. Honestly, if I only ate a fresh baguette from around the corner with a different kind of wine and cheese everyday I’d be ecstatic in my dairy and vino induced coma – but I decided that it may be better to venture out and explore what the South has to offer. We started our trip in Vieux Nice (Old Nice) and I loved every minute of it, the food and markets were great, the sea was picture perfect, plus it had the best Gelato outside of Italy. As my dad always says, “I know the world frequently has a lot to say about the French, but when it comes to food, wine, cheese and desserts they truly know what they’re doing and they always have.”

Waiting for our great dinner at La Favola. I probably would have been smiling if my stomach wasn’t eating itself.

Focaccia de Jambon Cru (Focaccia bread topped with veggies and prosciutto). Drizzled some olive oil and balsamic on top - super fresh and tasty.

Salad w/prosciutto, provolone, tomatoes, mozzarella, avocado and melon

Amazing baked rigatoni with eggplant and emmental cheese

More rigatoni cheesiness

Fresh seafood pasta w/mussels, squid, clams and shrimp in a light olive oil, white wine, tomato and garlic sauce

Super popular French meal - Steak frites w/ a béarnaise sauce (a derivative of a Hollandaise sauce, made with butter, eggs, shallots, tarragon, peppercorn and herbs)

After dinner treat - on our way to find the famous gelato spot.

Gelato at Finocchio. Master gelato makers.

Gelato at Finocchio

Enfin - gelato!

Fenocchio bustling at midnight

Le Quebec - the best pizza place in town

Pizza Niçoise: Black olives, capers, anchovies and oregano

Pizza Niçoise and salad Niçoise are particular to the town of Nice since these small black olives grow specifically in this region. The sun and terrain here are great for the growth and longevity of olive trees, many around this area produce for an average of 300 years. In the neighboring town of Menton, there’s even a tree that has been alive for 1,000+ years.

Meet the man responsible for it all

…and his workshop

Hungry brother Alex

Spicy Sausage Pizza

Of course, a nice rosé to wash it all down. These Frenchies know good and well that a little mid-day drink never hurt anybody.

View of the Mediterranean from the Promenade des Anglais

For those of you who know me and for those of you who don’t, it’s probably obvious by now that between this post and my Little Next Door post, I have a slight love affair with France. It’s true, I admire the French because of how they genuinely enjoy life, and for that – I think they are worth a shout out or two. Really though, who can deny a life of 7 weeks of government mandated vacation time or spending 6 hours in a cafe catching up with an old friend over a Croque-Monsieur, pommes frites, 15 espressos and a pack of cigarettes? Certainly not moi. Stay tuned for more from France!

One Delish Dish at “The Little Next Door”

9 May

Every time I’m at El Carmen fulfilling my incessant taco & margarita craving, I always seem to catch myself peeking over at the bustling patio next door.  Any restaurant overflowing with lively patrons always intrigues me, so needless to say, this wonderful French bistro immediately caught my eye. 

I finally had the pleasure of eating at The Little Next Door and my palate was jumping for joy.  This great restaurant not only had the adorably inviting decor of a traditional Parisian bistro or pâtisserie  (even down to the woven chairs and authentically Frenchie waiters), but it also had some amazing cuisine to support the ambiance.  

 Our Dinner:

Appetizers   Chef’s Special (cured meats, pate and yummy cheese plate)

                             Grilled Calamari Salad

                             Creole Soup (with shrimp and crisped bacon)

Entrees         Lamb Couscous (w/zucchini, carrots, garbanzo beans)

                            Steak au poivre (grilled skirt steak w/green peppercorn sauce)

                            Moules-frites (creamy white whine and shallot steamed mussels)

Dessert        Assortment of macaroons: Coconut, Lavender, Chocolate, Praline, Coffee,  Pistachio, Cookies & Cream

Outside patio area - great place for brunch or an early dinner

Amazing charcuterie and cheese plate

Gettin down on these succulent bad boys (aka Moules-frites)

Wine and moules make her pensive...

The steak screamed out "Eat Me," so we did...

Digging into the tasty treats

The Little Next Door – 8164 W 3rd Street Los Angeles – (323) 951-1010

I will most definitely be back again for dinner or a famous Little Next Door brunch!

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